“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee” Luke 1.26
Christmas. When does it actually begin?
In the church calendar today is the first Sunday in advent, the days leading up to Christmas Day during which Christians are supposed to reflect on the birth of Christ and also His second advent.
However, in reality it often feels like it begins months before. A friend, who at one stage of his life had worked in marketing, told me about planning meetings for Christmas that took place in May! Just how do you think “Christmas” in May? For some people it probably feels as though Christmas never really ends or begins, since they snap up bargains in the new year sales to give as Christmas presents eleven months later!
On a human level, the very first Christmas began months before the actual event, nine months to be precise. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary and announced the news that she would bring Messiah into the world.
On a divine level however, it began a lot farther back in the calendar than the visit of Gabriel.
Considering the way Christmas has developed over the years, it might seem almost sacriligeous to say that Christmas began in the heart of God. But it did. And it was in His heart a lot longer than nine months before the birth of Jesus.
Right back in the book of Genesis, God spoke words to the serpent that were later recognised as a veiled but real promise of redemption and a veiled but real threat to Satan’s grip on humanity:
“And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush our head,
and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3.15
Christmas was God’s initiative. Christmas represented and still does represent a loving God stretching down in the person of His Son to a broken humanity.
I don’t know when Christmas began for you – and perhaps for some of our male readers it won’t begin until Christmas Eve! But for God, Christmas began not just nine months before the event, it was on His heart right from the beginning.